This has got soul

SEEING someone with creativity from a tender age makes you wonder how different life might have been had that brush dabbed a little more intently your way at birth.

Salvatore Ferragamo was a name I knew had something to do with the fashion world; a perfume line and handbags. Little did I know how creative, inventive and tenacious he was in his youth.

From the opening scenes of the famous Marilyn Monroe red stiletto pumps encrusted with Swarovski crystals, this cleverly narrated Luca Guadagnino documentary about the life of creative Salvatore Ferragamo, had me wanting more. 

Salvatore the Shoemaker of Dreams takes us on a historical journey through Ferragamo’s narrated autobiography, using archival footage and memories recalled by his family, Martin Scorsese, and shoe designers including Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. 

From a humble beginning in the Italian village of Bonito, in 1898, Salvatore – the eleventh of 14 children – watched the local shoemaker through the shop window and dreamed of a career. 

At the time it was considered the lowliest of trades, but he wasn’t to be deterred and at the age of 10 went to learn all he could from the shoemaker.

His first shoes were for his two sisters’ Holy Communion, and he kept them under wraps until the day of the ceremony where they were admired by the community.

Ferragamo, the shoemaker to Hollywood screen stars from the silent era to the golden era began his career as an apprentice in Naples about 100km from Bonito.

Boarding a ship to America in 1916, the 17-year-old joined his brother in a Boston boot factory. 

Realising his ambitions weren’t being met, Ferragamo jumped on a train across America, where his love of the foot led him to study anatomy at the University of Southern California, leading him to the creation of the perfect fit for the shoe.

During the film we see the stars he created shoes for and some of the most outlandish shoes to grace a catwalk.

His imagination shows through in many of his designs, being the first to use bottle corks as heels, the metal shank to support the arch, or to employ the cork wedge. 

Marrying at 41 to Wanda, 23 years younger, he settled in the hills of Florence to build his empire and raise six kids. Beautiful footage of the city in the following 20 years takes you through a passage of time, we can’t get back. 


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